Who is President Buhari’s preferred candidate?

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Many men reputedly close to President Muhammadu Buhari, whether as political associates or government officials, are in the running to succeed him when his term ends on May 29, 2023. Each of them has it. informed and counts on its support. to choose the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the presidential ballot which will take place in the first quarter of next year.

Bola Tinubu played a pivotal role in forming the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party that first saw Mr Buhari taken seriously by southern voters in 2015 and helped him to end his streak of losses in presidential elections that began in 2003. Mr. Tinubu’s support was also crucial during his re-election in 2019, at a time when the president appeared to have long squandered his goodwill with his new voters south of the Niger and Benue rivers.

Yemi Osinbajo has been a loyal and remarkably active MP, while Rotimi Amaechi, as transport minister, has overseen perhaps the most visible achievements of the Buhari presidency. Governor Kayode Fayemi, who also informed Mr. Buhari of his intention to appear, served Mr. Buhari’s 2015 campaign as Director of Policy, Research and Strategy and later as Minister of Solid Minerals Development. All four have declared their intention to run in the APC presidential primaries.

Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

More of the president’s men could appear in the queue before delegates gather at Eagle Square in Abuja in late May to decide the ruling party’s flag bearer. Among them is Godwin Emefiele, a technocrat inherited from Mr Buhari as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who, after taking his role beyond managing monetary policy to essentially financing the government, became the one of the president’s men. A coordinated campaign for his candidacy for the APC has been going on for months in different media, so some dismayed Nigerians including this newspaper in a editorialcalled on him to deny it or quit his job to pursue ambition, if he had it.

Also expected are three other ministers, Godswill Akpabio, Timipre Sylva and Chris Ngige, as well as one of the president’s closest personal friends, former governor of Ogun Ibikunle Amosun. All of these men would be expected to inform the president before jumping into the fray. Many who are already in the field claim to be the president’s preferred candidate.

According to a Daily Trust report on Thursday, sources at presidency says Buhari does not oppose all aspirants’ plans to compete but that he kept his preference between them close to his chest.

In January, when the chairman was asked about his succession plan during an interview with Channels Television, his response was ambivalent. He said: “2023 is not my problem, I don’t care who succeeds me, let the person come, whoever they are.”

But then he quickly added that he actually has a favorite candidatebut he would not reveal the name so that this person would not be eliminated.

These remarks created an environment in which the promoters of many aspirants considered close to the president claimed that their man was that veiled favorite candidate.

But Daniel Bwala, a popular lawyer and political pundit, does not believe anyone has been or will be anointed by the president.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the APC.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the APC.

“Since that day (of the president’s remarks), people have speculated a lot. But if you see what is happening, you will know that there is no clearly defined preferred candidate, at least on the president’s side,” Bwala, who is also an APC member, said in a statement. interview with PREMIUM TIMES. .

Legacy

One of the reasons cited in 2006 by proponents of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term bid for wanting an extension of the then president’s term was the need to deepen his economic reforms and find a successor who would support them. . This was after Mr Obasanjo fell out with Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Ironically though, after the failed third-term plot, the president, in choosing his successor, neglected his cabinet and the economic team that worked with him.

Instead, he chose Katsina State Governor Umaru Yar’adua, who was not even an aspirant and whose only known connection to Mr Obasanjo was that the governor was a brother of Shehu Yar ‘Adua, his former deputy when he (Obasanjo) served as military head of state between 1976 and 1979.

If President Buhari decides to appoint a successor, who will he choose? Is it the man who helped build a national party that gave him victory in 2015, the man who allegedly helped raise the funds for the election, or an MP who was deeply involved in the governance of his presidency?

Rotimi Amaechi
Rotimi Amaechi

In his broadcast statement, Vice President Osinbajo presented himself as a candidate for continuity, the man who has been part of Mr Buhari’s “change” and “top level” program and who can best him. sustain. Other government officials, like Messrs. Amaechi, Sylva and Akpabio, will most likely make the same statement.

However, Mr Bwala argues that it is not necessary to be a member of Mr Buhari’s cabinet to support his agenda.

Buhari and political skills

“I think the change agenda is a party manifesto, in that every member of the party can make a decision and run with it,” he said. “So even though the president isn’t particularly rolling out a succession plan, the belief is that when you sign up to be a party member, you would have studied the party’s ideology and manifesto.”

Mr Bwala added that he had not seen enough to conclude that the president is pushing any particular candidate.

“If the president has a succession plan, will he show it? The answer is no. All the presidents who have ruled this country have been interested in who became the chairman of the party, but has he (Buhari) really demonstrated that he is a person who interferes? Certainly not. The closer you are to him, the more advantage you will have,” Mr Bwala said.

Speaking along the same lines, a former APC spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said he believed the president would allow the process to produce the party’s nominee.

“The president I know won’t come out and say he’s the person I support because even he himself participated in the primaries in 2015. Atiku (Abubakar), Okorocha (Rochas) and others opposed him and he won fairly,” Mr. Issa-Onilu told this newspaper in an interview.

Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar
Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

According to a media official who spoke on condition of anonymity, “even if the president wishes, does he have the political skill and temperament to push through without causing a split within the party?

“More importantly, the way he has run his government for the past seven years, he doesn’t seem to care about anything. All the seekers who informed him and got his approval know that he will say the same to everyone else and do nothing to help any of them.

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Commentators have observed that it will be harder for the president to push through his favourite, if he has one, as the party’s consensus candidate than he did in the national president’s selection last month. .

After much pressure, all other aspirants stepped down for former Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Adamu to take the seat.

Even so, Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai said the president is reluctant to anoint a candidate until governors are elected on the APC platform convinced him to do so.

According to the Daily Trust report quoted earlier, an unnamed founding member of the APC said that, contrary to party positions, the president cannot single-handedly choose the presidential candidate.

“What I can tell you is that the scenario that brought Abdullahi Adamu where the president handpicked him cannot be repeated now. The primaries must be held for the party to emerge victorious in 2023.

“Mr. President is aware of this fact, so (he) is careful. In the run-up to the 2015 general election, even when key stakeholders knew the party ticket was for him (Buhari), we still organized primaries in Lagos, where he beat Atiku, Kwankwaso, Bukola (Saraki), Okorocha and others,” the source said.

Fayode Fayemi [PHOTO CREDIT: @JKayodeFayemi]
Governor Kayode Fayemi [PHOTO CREDIT: @JKayodeFayemi]

Mr. Bwala shares this point of view. He said: “In the presidential (primary) there will be a contest, it will not be by consensus. Anyone who says it will be by consensus is just joking because almost anyone running for office, you would hear them, wherever they are, talk about delegates.


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